Essential workers can now book tests online - this is who is classed as an essential worker and how they can get tested

Millions of key workers and their households are now eligible for coronavirus tests as the Government races to meet its 100,000 daily target by the end of next week.

Friday, 24th April 2020, 8:56 am
Updated Friday, 24th April 2020, 8:58 am

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that people whose work is critical to the Covid-19 response, and those they live with, will be able to register for a test if they have symptoms.

NHS and social care staff, police officers, teachers, social workers, undertakers, journalists and those who work in supermarkets and food production are among those now eligible.

The announcement came as researchers at the University of Oxford began human trials for a potential coronavirus vaccine candidate.

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THE NHS testing station at Preston's College

But who are essential workers and how can they get tested?

Who can be tested?

The Government has said that the priority will still be to test patients, but in England essential workers with symptoms of coronavirus and the people who live with essential workers and have symptoms will be able to be tested from Friday.

Essential workers who are self-isolating can also be registered and referred for coronavirus testing by their employer from Thursday.

Testing is most effective within three days of symptoms – a high temperature or new continuous cough – developing, the Government added.

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The Government has published a list of essential workers which includes all NHS and social care staff from doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers and carers to support staff and supply chain workers.

Workers such as teachers, firefighters, local and national government staff, supermarket staff, police and delivery drivers are just some of the other roles included on the list.

How do I arrange a test?

Essential workers will be able to enter their details at and then receive an email or text the same day inviting them to book at test.

They will be able to choose between booking an appointment at one of more than 30 regional drive-through test site or being sent a home test kit.

But the Government has stressed these kit numbers will initially be limited, so it is encouraging people to attend a regional test site if they can.

People who cannot go online can book a test through their employer, Mr Hancock said.

Where will the tests take place?

The Government said it is planning to open 50 drive-through testing sites by the end of April with the aim that most people will not have to drive for more than 45 minutes to get to a regional testing site.

A delivery service for home testing kits has been designed with industry partners, including Royal Mail and Amazon.

A network of new mobile testing units designed by Army engineers is being set up to travel to care homes, police stations, prisons and other sites where there is demand for testing.

Packages of satellite test kits will also be sent directly to care homes across England to enable testing of symptomatic residents.

What does the test involve?

The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, and can be done by the person themselves or by someone else.

What happens next?

Completed samples will be sent to a testing laboratory where they are analysed.

The Government said that it is aiming for tests from drive-through sites to be sent out by text within 48 hours and home testing kit results within 72 hours of collection.

People will be given advice on any next steps that need to be taken after receiving their results.